WASHINGTON—Tire and rubber manufacturers are reticent about how the Trump administration's immigration policies and travel bans are affecting their operations and personnel, both domestically and worldwide.
Those who did choose to comment agreed that so far the administration's policies have had little if any impact on them.
"Global business success is only possible with a diverse work force and an inclusive, respectful culture in which all employees can work and thrive," Bridgestone Americas said in response to an inquiry from RPN.
"We are glad to have not seen any major shifts in our business operations related to the Trump administration's immigration policies and travel bans," Bridgestone said. It was one of very few companies to comment.
President Trump's zero-tolerance philosophy on immigration was one of the key points of his election campaign.
"The U.S. must adopt an immigration system that serves the national interest," said a page on immigration on the White House website.
"To restore the rule of law and secure our border, President Trump is committed to constructing a border wall and ensuring the swift removal of unlawful entrants," the statement said. "To protect American workers, the President supports ending chain migration, eliminating the visa lottery, and moving the country to a merit-based entry system."
The week of July 30, Trump threatened to shut down the federal government if Congress did not grant him the funds to build the wall and pass laws to make it easier for the administration to deport undocumented immigrants.
Under the Trump administration, the rules for granting political asylum have been tightened considerably, and so have the restrictions on H-1B visas allowing highly skilled foreign workers to work in the U.S.
On Aug. 7, news outlets reported that in coming weeks the administration would unveil a plan to make it more difficult for legal immigrants to become citizens or retain legal status.
One of the administration's most controversial activities in any area of policy was the forced separation of children from parents who crossed the U.S. border illegally.
The administration estimates that 2,342 children were separated from their parents by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and held by the Office of Refugee Resettlement under the Department of Health and Human Services.
Although the administration has discontinued separating families at the border and promised to reunite children with parents, it missed court-ordered deadlines for the reunion of children and parents.
Along with tougher immigration policies, the administration also has implemented a policy of banning travelers from countries deemed to be hostile to the U.S.
After losing many federal court challenges, the administration won a 5-4 victory in the U.S. Supreme Court June 26.
The high court upheld the administration's policy suspending the issuance of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.
Citizens of those countries may apply to the State Department for waivers exempting them from the ban. However, the agency had granted only about 2 percent of more than 33,000 applications received through April 30.
So far the administration's immigration policies and travel bans have not affected the College of Polymer Science and Technology at the University of Akron, according to Ali Dhinojwala, H.A. Morton professor of polymer science and interim dean of the college.
"We currently have no specific examples of the immigration policies and travel bans impacting our students, faculty or staff," Dhinojwala said.
Enrollment remains strong in the college's master's and doctorate degree programs, including many international students on campus, according to Dhinojwala.
"While some prospective students may have recently had visa requests denied, the numbers are in keeping with those we have experienced previously," he said.
Nevertheless, there may be some impact in the future, according to Dhinojwala.
"We sense there is a perception by many prospective international students that it is difficult to gain entry to the U.S. and eventually get a job here," he said. "Those perceptions are all anecdotal and have not been documented in any way. But if the perception is prevalent, it may impact our enrollment over time, as students seek educational opportunities in countries with less barriers to entry.
"It may also reduce the talent available for employment in the polymer and rubber industry as a whole," he said.
Other tire and rubber industry sources either did not respond or declined comment, except to make general statements.
"As always, Continental is open to working with the administration on comprehensive immigration reform as we believe this could be an important piece of our growing work force," said a spokeswoman for Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.
A spokeswoman for Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies said the company has seen no significant impact because of the administration's immigration policies.